The Role of Resources in Africa’s future: Towards a vision for the Governance of Africa’s Natural Resources

Image: Flickr, Julien Harneis
Image: Flickr, Julien Harneis

An event co-hosted by SAIIA and ACODE, members of the Governance of Africa's Resources Research Network (GARN).

Location: Golf Course Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

Concept note

How do we ensure that Africans benefit maximally, equitably and sustainably from the continent’s natural resource riches? This is not a new question. Questions about wise and accountable stewardship of earth’s resources have long preoccupied both decision-makers and ordinary citizens the world over. Too often we stand accused by history. Today, and as pressures on limited resources – both non-renewable and renewable – intensify, we stand even to be accused by future generations. In debating causes and solutions for these global challenges, Africa is often relegated to the position of subject for outside study and scrutiny; an easy target to which to apply phrases like “resource curse” or “paradox of plenty”. This seminar attempts to move beyond hackneyed and deterministic catch phrases. It does not deny the challenges faced by the continent, but urges Africans to think also of potential and opportunity, and importantly about ways to overcome challenges and to turn potential into reality.

SAIIA, ACODE and our partners in the Governance of Africa’s Resources Research Network (GARN) are particularly concerned with the role of governance in answering the question posed at the outset. It is to this end that the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and Advocates Coalition on Development and Environment (ACODE) invite selected delegates from Uganda and other resource-rich African states from to join us in Kampala, Uganda to start a discussion about the role of natural resources in Africa’s future. On 13 March 2012 we will meet for a one-day seminar titled, ‘The Role of Resources in Africa’s Future: Towards a vision for the Governance of Africa’s Natural Resources’. We believe that there are important lessons that can be drawn across sectors, scales and region. For this reason, it was decided to keep the scope of the seminar rather broad. Carefully chaired discussions will allow us to identify some broad and cross-cutting themes by the end of the day. The themes identified on Day 1 will feed into a second day workshop for members of the GARN on 14 March 2012 aimed at developing a home-grown research agenda for partners under the theme, ‘A strategic research agenda for the governance of Africa’s natural resources’. Your expert participation at the one-day seminar on 13 March 2012 will add value to these discussions. The programme follows:


DAY 1: 13 MARCH 2011

8:30 – 8:45 Registration

8:45 – 9:00 Opening remarks and introductions

9:00 – 9:30 Keynote address: Peter Veit (World Resources Institute (WRI), USA), ‘The case for partnering with international organisations’


Oil is arguably still the most strategic natural resource. Recent discoveries in many African states beg the question, ‘How can oil contribute to the equitable and sustained development on the continent?’ Thoughts from experienced players (like Angola), some of whom face new challenges and opportunities (like the newly independent Southern Sudan) will be followed by a discussion of ‘new players’ like Ghana and host country, Uganda.

9:30 – 10:30 Facilitated panel discussion on the governance of the oil sector, with contributions from:

Angola – Vicente Pinto de Andrade (Centro de Estudos e Investigacao Cientifica (CEIC) at UCAN, Angola)

Southern Sudan – Leben Moro (Center for Peace and Development Studies (CPDS), Southern Sudan)

Ghana – Joana Osei-Tutu (Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Ghana)

Uganda – Petrus de Kock (South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), South Africa)

10:30 – 11:00 Open discussion

Facilitator for Session 1: Arthur Bainomugisha (ACODE)

11:00 – 11:30 Tea break

SESSION 2: Renewable resources: land, forestry, fisheries

Some argue that renewable resources – fertile land, fresh water, forests, fisheries – are the strategic resources of the future. These resources come with their own sets of opportunities and challenges that differ from that of the purely extractive sectors. A discussion of a select number of case studies will serve to highlight some of these, including the open access nature of many of these resources; the fact that their intrinsic value is often overlooked by decision-makers; the way in which their governance requires a complex interplay between social and ecological systems. A discussion on land – a resource that highlights the complex linkages with other resource sectors – will be followed by ones on forestry and fisheries.

11:30 – 11:50 Land as a strategic resource – Onesmus Mugyenyi (Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Uganda)

11:50 – 12:30 Panel discussion, with contributions from:

Forestry in the DRC – Joël Kiyulu (Centre de coordination des recherché et de la documentation en sciences sociales pour l’Afrique subsaharienne (CERDAS), DRC)

Fisheries in Uganda and the Lake Victoria Basin – Alex Benkenstein (South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), South Africa)

12:30 – 13:00 Open discussion

Facilitator for Session 2: Onesmus Mugyenyi (ACODE)

13:00 – 14:00 LUNCH

SESSION 3: Mining

Africa is also rich in mineral resources. Recent patterns that have seen highly volatile commodity cycles will most likely continue into the future. Despite this volatility, overall long-term trends indicate an upward trend in the demand for these resources. As in the case of oil, this demand is spurred by intensified international competition for resources linked to the rise of so-called ’emerging powers’ like China and India. A broad overview of the challenges and opportunities that face the Africa (and South Africa’s) mining sector will be followed by case-specific discussions of coal mining in Mozambique and diamond mining in Zimbabwe.

14:00 – 14:20 Trends and issues in African mining governance – Petrus de Kock (South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), South Africa)

14:20 – 15:00 Panel discussion, with contributions on:

Mozambique – Carlos Muianga (Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos (IESE), Mozambique)

Zimbabwe – James Mupfumi (Centre for Research and Development (DRC), Zimbabwe)

15:00 – 15:30 Open discussion

Facilitator for Session 3: Alex Benkenstein (SAIIA)

15:30 – 15:45 Tea break

SESSION 4: Identification of cross-cutting themes

15:45 – 16:30 Panel discussion among chairs of previous sessions

16:30 – 17:00 Open discussion aimed at identifying cross-cutting themes

Facilitator for Session 4: Mari-Lise du Preez (SAIIA

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